Kayleigh Ford connects to those in her community through her ASL knowledge


Kayleigh Ford

Kayleigh Ford has found that her ASL experience has been very useful in communicating with others

Senior Kayleigh Ford was taken by surprise when the customer at the Starbucks drive-through where she worked was not answering any of her questions. When the customer finally pulled up to the window after passing the speaker, everything quickly became clear to Kayleigh.

“They were signing, ‘I’m deaf,’” Kayleigh said. “I was like ‘Oh! I know Sign Language. So they became my regular customer. That stuck with me for the longest time—it was an amazing experience.”

Kayleigh, who is in her fourth year of learning ASL, absolutely adores learning new signs and forms of communication. Although she originally took the class because she didn’t want to take Spanish, she quickly fell in love with the course.

Kayleigh’s interest in the subject goes beyond just high school education, though. When she graduates, Kayleigh plans on pursuing a career in ASL after going to school for the language.

“I’m hoping to be an interpreter, so nothing to do with in-school stuff—hopefully, [it will be] outside of school,” Kayleigh said. “But, if in-school has to happen, I’d be willing to do that as well.”

Despite the fact that Kayleigh has no interest in becoming a teacher, she does not lack the love for teaching and helping others. Thankfully, due to the opportunities in her ASL class, Kayleigh has been able to take many field trips to get her out into the community.

From their trip to the museum, where they explored how to make museums more accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing, to the trip where they taught elderly people how to sign, Kayleigh has been able to expand her horizons and get more involved in the community.

“[Teaching the elderly how to sign] is a lot of fun,” Kayleigh said. “They’re really into it, which makes my heart melt because they’re so cute.”

However, Kayleigh’s involvement with helping others in her community isn’t confined to the boundaries of schoolwork. On her own time, Kayleigh does plenty of work that benefits others through volunteering.

Through the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services, Kayleigh has been able to lend a hand to many. She has also participated in Signing Santa, a non-profit organization that helps bring families that have children with hearing loss together during the holidays and raise awareness.

“[Volunteering] was a really great experience,” Kayleigh said. “I used to work at Starbucks and places like that, and I’ve gotten to use my ASL skills there by signing with people—it was great.”

In addition to aiding people directly, Kayleigh hopes to be able to change some of the preconceptions surrounding the Deaf and hard of hearing community.

Despite the fact that they have a different way of communicating, those who have hearing disabilities are still people with the same emotions and unique personalities as those who do not have hearing loss.

People need to realize that ASL is a big part of this world, and there are a lot of deaf people.

— Kayleigh Ford

“I think people think that they’re a different community and let’s not worry about them,” Kayleigh said. “That’s not true. They’re still human—they’re not aliens or anything. People need to realize that ASL is a big part of this world, and there are a lot of deaf people.”

Apart from the activities in the class and the many opportunities that Kayleigh has had because of her four years in ASL, she has also found joy in the classroom itself among her peers.

Although the class only has eleven people in it and they are at times combined with ASL 3, the smaller class allows for deeper bonds and connections to form between the students and their passion for the language.

“It’s a very good environment,” Kayleigh said. “There’s only eleven of us, so we’re all pretty close. It’s a lot of fun—I really enjoy it.”